Signs and symptoms of brain damage from severe dehydration

Written by jacqueline lerche
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Signs and symptoms of brain damage from severe dehydration
Overexertion can lead to severe dehydration. (run image by Byron Moore from

Severe dehydration is a serious condition that can cause death if it is not dealt with immediately. Warning signs of severe dehydration include little to no urine production in an eight-hour period, minimal saliva in the mouth and the inability to sweat or produce tears. Dehydration often results from illness or physical overexertion. According to the University of Chicago, if dehydration is detected quickly and treated, a full recovery is possible. However, if left untreated for too long, dehydration can cause heat stroke and lead to permanent brain damage.

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According to Drexel University, severe dehydration can cause seizures and convulsions. This is an early warning sign of possible brain damage developing during the dehydration crisis if it is not treated immediately.

Cognitive Signs and Symptoms

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, an inability or impaired ability to comprehend and make decisions is a sign of brain damage. Problems remembering, concentrating or reading are also common symptoms. Additionally, those who suffer from brain damage may forget or be entirely unaware of the changes in their cognitive or physical abilities.

Behavioural Changes

A marked change in behaviour is a frequent symptom of someone suffering from brain damage. This commonly appears as depression and may include intense expressions of emotions. Depression may be situational or a sign of physical or hormonal changes due to brain damage.

Problems with Motor Function

Brain damage signs and symptoms include lack of balance and problems with coordination. The brain may not be able to connect the desired movement with the corresponding brain signals necessary to complete the action. Muscle weakness may also be involved. Additional signs and symptoms of brain damage include slurring of speech and difficulty swallowing.

Muscle Weakness

A common symptom of brain damage and heatstroke is weakness that is focused on one side of the body. Although the weakness could subside, it may be a lasting condition. The physical weakness may also be accompanied by numbness. However, this numbness may not always be isolated to the weakened areas.


Increased pain sensation is a symptom of brain damage. The pain can vary in intensity and can be localised or widespread. According to the National Stroke Association, changes in pain sensations are not caused by damaged nerves. Rather, they stem from the brain's inability to process information signals. Unfortunately, this symptom can cause other symptoms, like muscle weakness, to worsen.


Fatigue is another symptom of brain damage that can be caused by depression, pain, muscle weakness or impairment or other problems associated with brain damage. This fatigue could be a temporary or chronic issue.

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